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:Retrowerks: Triton Festival 2013 – Night 2 – September 6, 2013 – NYC, NY

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Triton Festival 2013 – Night 2
September 6, 2013
New York, NY @ Irving Plaza

Review by Maresa Whitehead

The second day of VampireFreaks’ Triton Festival dawned on Friday, September 6th. Many festival goers spent their down time on the streets of the city: gorging at restaurants with massive breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus such as that offered at Park Slope Restaurant in Brooklyn, sipping fantastic iced mocha lattes with hand-created froth alongside kind baristas named Joe at hole-in-the-wall coffee shops such as Crop to Cup Brew Bar (also in Brooklyn), and delving into the local shops such as Gothic Renaissance in East Village. But by 8:00 PM, those in the alternative subculture once again converged in Manhattan, this time at Irving Plaza.

Another double-level venue, the setup at Irving Plaza was a bit less successful than Gramercy Theatre’s the previous night. Downstairs, a bar with some seating and a few vendors captivated fans as soon as they entered the doors. But the real fun was to be had upstairs, where a large ballroom, complete with chandelier and disco ball, provided abundant standing room in front of the raised stage. A bar spanned the width of the room at the very back beneath a lowered ceiling. Above this bar was the balcony for VIPs, press, and the night’s spinning DJs. To one side, at the top of the stairs coming from the lower level of the venue, a couple of other vendors as well as the merch booths for the bands were set up. For those that wished to inhale nicotine, a cramped smoking area was located outside at the bottom of the stairs on the lower level. Since it was tightly packed, it gave people the chance to get to know one another (sometimes intimately). But it was unfortunately so small that smokers had to wait in long lines, often missing parts of sets, in order to be ushered out for a few puffs before being rushed back inside for the next smokers in line to have a chance.

There were visibly more people in attendance this second night of Triton Fest, and the crowd was more energetic. At the same time, that meant more drunk people who had absolutely no concern for their fellow audience members, and many attendees became annoyed with someone at one point or another. It also meant that the multitudinous sweating bodies created a humid, overpowering stench that had to be ignored for the sake of fans’ stomachs. Also, the fact that the night’s featured DJs were above the crowd in the balcony made it easy to ignore or forget them when they should have been better highlighted for their contributions to the night’s festivities. And who could ignore that annoying projection screen which lowered between each band and advertised upcoming, irrelevant shows at the venue? But that didn’t stop the mass of patrons who looked as if they had stepped off the runway at a gothic fashion show from giving their bodies over to the night.

Ego Likeness out of Baltimore revved things up with their brand of melodic, dance-y industrial. Obviously crowd favorites, guitarist Steven Archer and vocalist Donna Lynch teamed with Brendin Ross, Mike Johnson, and Mindcage Rick to spread sultry vibrato vocals and thick guitar licks into the thrumming air. With two drummers pounding away on their electronic pads, onlookers found it nearly impossible not to move to the beats. Ego Likeness’ sound was robust, layered with the various instruments, and fully filled the high-ceilinged room.

The music completely changed directions with the next band, industrial metal act Deadstar Assembly out of Florida. The mix of music ensured that every type of industrial music fan in attendance got something out of the evening, though. Deadstar Assembly recreated the scene into one out of a good ol’ metal show; complete with live bass, guitar, keys, and drums. The audience became more aggressive, creating a mosh pit and headbanging in time with the pounding double bass drums which vibrated every body in the room. The highlight of the set was when DA amped up their rendition of Real Life’s “Send Me An Angel,” and the majority of the room crowed the lyrics even if DA wasn’t their type.

Next, Psyclon Nine came to the stage with their terror EBM and more recent industrial metal tracks. Nero Bellum and company had covered themselves in black latex to their chins, and Nero had one eye surrounded by plush false eyelashes. Psyclon Nine played more of their aggressive tracks to the chagrin of fans of their earlier terror EBM, but they certainly put on an unruly show with spot-on sound quality. Nero even jumped off the stage into the crowd, where he surfed over the hands of his adoring fans as he shrieked with his banshee-like voice. At one time, they were lit with bright white backlights, standing as silhouettes on the stage. The mosh pit continued to expand from that which had begun with Deadstar Assembly, and it was obvious Psyclon Nine rejoiced in their riotous reception.

The evening’s sound took a more melodic turn with the EBM of Germany’s Faderhead. Backed by a projection screen which featured the main lyrics to each track, Faderhead enticed attendees less to mosh and more to dance, saying “It doesn’t matter what you look like when you dance.” Of course Faderhead played their hit “Dirtygrrrls/Dirtybois” which had everyone singing the familiar refrain (and those who didn’t know the lyrics quickly picked them up from the projection screen and the shouts of those around them). The sound was smooth and full-bodied, a nod to the audio setup and attending engineer, who was certainly on top of the differing ranges each band had to offer.

It is here that mention must be made of one of the unanticipated attractions of the three festival nights. Between bands, a mysterious dark-skinned warrior unsheathed the plastic weapons he stowed across his back and turned on their color-changing LEDs. He danced to the DJs with his rave-appropriate glowing swords spinning and striking throughout his obviously martial arts-inspired routines. The crowd parted and circled around him, and some brave souls actually interacted with him, some in jest and some in magical moments. Either way, Erock of NYC’s own Rave Ninjaz never lost his concentration and rarely broke his momentum as he was photographed and videotaped throughout the nights, thereby rising to one of Triton Festival’s dancing staples.

London After Midnight, California’s preeminent goth rock act, took the stage after Faderhead. Their orchestral intro was paired with the band members’ names flashing across a projection screen. The screen was also utilized throughout their set and showcased political scenes and lyrics, a seeming trend among these Triton Fest bands. LAM’s bass melodies vibrated through the Irving Plaza floor and up the swaying limbs of veiled and gloved fans. Their sultry Type O Negative-inspired sound was hearty and represented yet another subgenre in the scene. LAM also sponsored the only giveaway during Triton Fest. Anyone who bought any band’s official merch was entered to win LAM’s bass guitar. At the end of their set, LAM announced the winner (though the person did not come forward to claim his or her prize while LAM was on stage).

Co-headlining Triton Fest’s second evening was Toronto’s The Birthday Massacre. Vocalist Chibi installed herself center stage, the rest of the bandmates spread out to her sides (with the drums behind her, of course). Chibi wore her signature schoolgirl style and together with Nate, Rhim, Falcore, Rainbow, and Owen, released TBM’s retro goth rock onto the awaiting crowd. Though she had surgery on her vocal chords just last year, Chibi’s voice was strong and feminine, though she did have some barely noticeable slips when transitioning from growly to crisp, high-pitched vocals. TBM’s set list featured fan favorites spanning their discography, and all of the members were visibly having fun and connecting with the sections of the crowd in front of them (which is why it was smart for them to fan out across the stage).

After TBM came Dawn of Ashes, but much like the previous night, the audience thinned and many people left before DoA took the stage. Eight hours is a long night after a full day anyway, but perhaps if Triton Fest began their nights earlier and ended earlier (say, 6:00 PM to 2 AM), more people would stick it out for the last bands. It was also strange that the last band was not the headliner, but perhaps this was a good call since a large number of patrons left before 3:00 AM. Of course, the argument could be made that if the last band, on until 4:00 AM, was the actual headliner, more people would have stayed anyway. But on this night, a large number of fans, including me, neglected to watch Dawn of Ashes because we were standing in line to meet and greet The Birthday Massacre—though from what I heard where I was standing, DoA’s sound was spot-on. Another positive for the Triton Fest sponsors is that each band opted to meet fans at their merch booths after their sets. In other events, if there is a VIP meet-and-greet, bands may not show themselves to other fans understandably to make the VIP passes more alluring and worthwhile. That didn’t happen here, and many people were extremely appreciative.

And with that, another night in sprawling, unsleeping NYC came to an end. The time for food and sleep, uninterrupted cigarettes and sex in preparation for the next night’s final festivities arrived. Triton Fest’s little goth/industrial crowd split and crept through the streets amid promises to meet again the following evening.

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